Previously the CDC estimated autism's prevalence at about an average of 1 in 110 U.S. children. The new estimate suggests autism is more common than previously thought - about 25 percent more common - and may affect more than one million children and teens in the U.S.
For the CDC's study, researchers looked at autism prevalence estimates from 14 areas in the country. Since every state is not included, the CDC warned the rate "should not be generalized to the United States as a whole." But the data do show that autism diagnoses continue to increase. It's published in the March 29 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Boys are still about five times more likely to be diagnosed with autism in the U.S. than girls, according to the CDC report. It estimated one in 54 boys have autism, while one in 252 girls do. The number of children identified with ASDs ranged from 1 in 210 children in Alabama to 1 in 47 children in Utah. The largest increases were among Hispanic and black children.
For 2012, the National Institutes of Health invested $169 million in autism research to improve screening and diagnosis, develop effective services and resources for families, identify potential risk factors in the environment that may cause the disorder, and for testing potential treatments.
Read the CDC report